Brewdog – Indie Pale Ale

Brewdog – Indie Pale Ale

The brewery Brewdog seems to emote a wide range of emotions whenever their name is uttered among beer fans, whether it’s shouts of derision, and rolling of eyes. Or, their more vocal evangelical supporters, who may or may not be equity punks, no one can deny, that they push people’s buttons. Full disclosure, i’m an Equity Punk.

Maybe, it’s the brash marketing, this “punk” ethos, the constant crowdfunding, they selling of a stake to a US equity fund, or maybe it’s much more simple. Is it envy of their success? No matter what revisionist history you subscribe to, to get from where they were in 2007, to where they are now, a company worth appx £1bn is impressive. No matter what way you shake it down. There has even been some calls for James Watt and Martin Dickie to walk

It’s also extremely impressive, how they are very successful at exporting, and Ireland is currently in their top ten export markets, but realistically it’s the tie up to Sweden that is the cash cow that keeps them going. They also have a growing pub estate in the UK and further afield. They also, have been extremely successful at getting their beer in the hands of consumers. Dealing with Multiple grocers, and pubco’s like Wetherspoons, and also self distribution into other independent retailers, has seen them be able to price Punk IPA at both the top end of the market (about £5 a pint in their bars, or 4 cans for £5 in Tesco) This is all very impressive. Brewdog it appears are Marmite, you either love them, or hate them. The middle ground seems hard to find. I think the point gets lost sometimes, but they are in the business of selling beer. They are quite good at it. However are they taking less risks than before? Perhaps. They are undoubtedly still capable of great beers, Paradox Rye, Barrel Aged Albino Squid Assassin, and Jackhammer are testament to this, plus many of the small batch beers that never make it here that are exclusive to their bars.

The term Craft, is a term that has in my view been hijacked by marketeers, to convey something, and has by and large been bastardised, i’m pretty sure I saw a “craft” barber recently. But let’s put this into scale, in terms of size, Brewdog, are much smaller than many of the US brewerys they (and many beer fans) admire, take Stone for example, they produce much more, and have 3 breweries, 2 in the US, and one in Germany. Yet, they don’t get anywhere near the heat that Brewdog do.

I started this post with the intention of reviewing this new beer, and i’ll get to that. This just brings a wider context how inclusive is “craft” beer? In Ireland independent brewers hold appx 3.5% of the overall market share. This means that the vast vast majority of drinkers drink macro beer. In my view, and i’ve always thought this, there needs to be those gateway beers, and perhaps breweries, to bring people in, put an arm around them and get them to try something new. Something that won’t terrify them. Everyone has to start somewhere. It’s akin to bringing someone to an Indian restaurant and recommending a vindaloo to someone who’s never eaten one before.  You wouldn’t do that (ok if you didn’t like them you might) but the point remains the same. Without denigrating the work of some here, but breweries in Ireland like O’Haras, Porterhouse, and Bru, are churning out pretty safe beers which are in the middle, and wouldn’t be too much of a challenge to you stereotypical lager drinker. For every O’Hara’s we have DOT Brewing, for every Porterhouse we have Galway Bay, for every Bru we have Whiplash. There are many people making a living now from this industry, and there is a place for everyone as the market grows, but consistency will be key to their survival. Right now there are an increasing number of brewers here who are touching on world class category, and they’re beginning to tell their story outside these shores.


The beer itself, looks pleasing in the glass, I get hints of pears, and banana on the nose, almost like a Hefeweissen but not as strong. There is a biscuity and slight caramel taste, with moderate hop bitterness. All in all, not very offensive. It’s just a well made inoffensive beer. Not too much going on, but nothing wrong with it. Maybe they’ll tweak the recipe. To my taste, i’d reach for Dead Pony over it, or Whiplash Rollover. However, if you were out with a bunch of friends and their was a couple of non craft drinkers, this wouldn’t scare them away. It might just get them on the right path to more flavourful beer in the future. Is this the middle ground? Time will tell


Beer Cocktails

Beer Cocktails

The seed was planted  a couple of years ago, at my very first visit to the Brewdog AGM, to experiment with beer as a mixer in cocktail making. This came about when I was looking for something different. You know when you’ve just had enough beer and you’re looking for an alternative, be it whiskey, a cocktail or whatever your preferred drink may be? Well that is how I stumbled upon my first experiment.

I know there are quite a few bars and restaurants that have perfected some amazing beer cocktails, but back then it was a revelation to me. At the AGM, held in the arena in Aberdeen, it was very much set up as a festival. Quite like your typical concert here in Ireland, the stage area with bars set up around the perimeters. I had reached my beer limit and had my epiphany when I remembered I was carrying a bottle of Irn Bru in my bag. I sought out a half pint of Dead Pony Club and mixed it with the Irn Bru. Much to my delight it was gorgeous. Wayne was pleasantly surprised too.

This all stemmed from when we attended the ABVFest in 2015. It was my first professionally made beer cocktail perfected by Gary. This was when we first met @TheGazzz who we were both following on twitter. He developed the beer cocktails that were available at the festival. Not only that but he also developed the beer cocktails for Brewbot in Belfast too. So if you’re attending the festival this year, go check out his cocktail creations, you won’t be disappointed.

Locally however, trying to find a bar that has a decent beer selection is like hens teeth. We live in a big enough town with a main street that houses plenty of bars. However a handful of pubs have a small craft beer bottle range with them having one tap for micro brewed beer. There is only one dedicated craft beer pub, Brú House Navan, so you can imagine the difficulty trying to get a proper beer cocktail.
This brings me to what was a regular Friday night at home with Wayne enjoying a couple of beers, I sent a simple tweet:

That’s when we decided to take Thomas up on his suggestion of mixing beer and gin. Being the curious cats we are, and as we were already drinking it, I said how about using whitehags lemon sour Púca. So off to the drinks cabinet Wayne went and after a few minutes he comes back with his creation. He used Boyles Gin mixed with the lemon púca and garnished with slices of lemon. The resulting taste resembled lemoncello. It went down very well. Boyles gin is a small batch distilled specifically for Aldi Ireland. We picked up a couple of bottles for €24.99 each.

Next was my turn to come up with something. I used Glendalough wild spring botanical gin, the 2016 version. This is a seasonal gin using locally foraged ingredients to produce a very limited batch. We were lucky enough to pick up a bottle from The Winehouse in Trim.

Being a big fan of Waynes cocktail, I decided to stay with Púca, only the berry hibiscous and ginger version. I prefer this to the original dry hopped lemon flavour. It is just as face scrunchingly tart but a little sweeter which I enjoy more. I chose mint as my garnish and it was beautiful.

While we were on a recent visit to Simon Lambert & Sons in Wexford, for a day with Yellowbelly, we enjoyed some seriously tasty beer cocktails. These were created by Danny using beers by Boundary Brewing. Wayne enjoyed “King Bong”, a citrus infused gin, white lemonade, fresh orange which was topped up with Boundarys Imbongo Tropical IPA. It was really good. However mine was “Dirty Filthy Animal” Dingle Vodka, Espresso Coffee, Tia Maria, Sugar blended with Boundarys “Filthy Animal” chilli porter. It was absolutely amazing.

Photo courtesy of @yellowbelly

Thanks again to the power of twitter, I’ve discovered a few places that serve beer cocktails in Dublin. Idlewild Bar in Dublin have a Magic Rock porter martini and an ipa margarita on the way with a new beer cocktail menu. The Hill Pub in Ranelagh have created a gin and grapefruit based cocktail topped off with Brewdogs Elvis Juice. Brickyard Gastro pub have also tried and tested a few cocktails and are also creating their Hoptail menu. I’m quite happy to know there are a few places serving them. It’s a start at the very least.

Podcast Episode Thirty Three – A couple of new ones from Four Corners

Podcast Episode Thirty Three – A couple of new ones from Four Corners


In this latest podcast episode we taste two new beers to the Irish Market, that are being brought in by distributor Four Corners.

We are tasting from Beavertown‘s new Core Range IPA, Lupuloid, and also Brewdog’s mango and chilli IPA, Neon Overlord.

We also look back on our weekend in Manchester, where we attended the fifth Independent Manchester Beer Convention, affectionately known as Indyman.

We have a post Indyman roundtable with Steve from Hopinions and young whipper snapper Paul  from Edinburgh where we review together our experience

The episode is available via iTunes, Stitcher Radio, and here